Shoes are essentially designed to provide protection, and this is even more crucial when it comes to sport. Running is a straight-line activity, so running shoes are designed with that motion in mind. Netball is completely different though, requiring demanding sudden changes of direction and large impact forces when decelerating through a landing.
For Netball, it is critical for the shoe to:
- Counteract and support these sudden braking forces.
- Provide grip and traction required to change direction.
- Have sufficient side-to-side stability to support the ankle joint.
Netball shoes also need traditional features such as light weight and forefoot flexibility, given the player needs to move around the court quickly as possible.
What can happen if you wear incorrect shoes for netball:
Incorrect footwear often contributes to potential injury risk for the simple reason that they are designed for a completely different set of movements. For Netball, shoes with a stable upper and firm heel counter improve the stability of the ankle and provide protection when players jump and land. ASICS Netball shoes are built with a unique wrapped / rounded outsole design to stabilise the midsole during extreme movements. The above features assist the athlete, giving a fraction more time to hopefully “pull back” from the sudden trauma of an ankle sprain or “roll over” which is a common occurrence on the court.
With Netball, the biggest issue we see as Podiatrists is lateral ankle injuries which are fairly common in the sport. These injuries can be greatly contributed to by wearing unstable footwear that is not designed for side-to-side movements. We strongly advise against Netball players wearing running shoes on the court. Running shoes are not designed to function, support or assist with the movements involved with the sport. As stated previously, running shoes can potentially contribute to injury and they also tend to wear out prematurely due to the rigors of Netball.
Preventative measures that can be taken to avoid injuries whilst playing netball: There are three key considerations in Netball that I often discuss with patients.
- Wear shoes that are specifically designed for your sport. Not only do they offer more support and protection – they are also built with durability in mind.
- Learn how to jump, land and change direction safely. This is a matter of good technique.
- Commit to ongoing strength and conditioning training to improve strength of your muscles and stability of your ankles and knees And above all else, if you sustain an injury to your ankle or knee, rehab it properly.
What netball players should watch out for:
In addition to the key considerations mentioned above, be cautious about being reliant on taping and ankle braces. You can still sustain a bad injury when taped or wearing a brace. A commitment to regular strength and conditioning of the foot, ankle, knee and hip goes a long way to improving your overall performance and staying injury free.
Author: Sports Podiatrist with PhD in Footwear Biomechanics and member of SMA - Chris Bishop.
Written in partnership with ASICS Australia
About the Author – Chris Bishop:
- Director of The Biomechanics Lab, Australia’s leading private 3D Gait analysis and sports science facility.
- Consultant podiatrist to the South Australian Institute of Sport (SASI), South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) and Cycling Australia
- Adjunct Research Fellow at University of South Australia. Author of 16 papers in the fields of footwear, biomechanics, and athletic performance.
- Consultant to ASICS Oceania in footwear development, biomechanical testing, athletic performance and footwear comfort.
- Clinical podiatrist seeing > 4000 patients per year in the area of sports medicine, biomechanics and footwear.